Camden Fringe Festival 2021

REVIEW: Lil Saffron: Ragu to Riches, The Hen and Chickens Theatre, Camden Fringe 2021

Festivals!! I’d missed this. Sweaty rooms above pubs, a billion shows to choose from, and that thrill in your belly and the possibility you’re about to see something that’s going to change your world forever.

Or sometimes you see a white guy dressed as a chef rapping about pasta, and that’s fine too!

Lil Saffron is a heart-wrenching tale of love, betrayal, and talking cows. If you like a high ppm (puns per minute) show, then this would be your idea of heaven.

They flow by both in the songs and raps that pepper (sorry) the narrative, and in the dialogue between Saffron and the several other important characters, also played by Saffron (I keep talking about him like he’s real, but he’s the creation of Mike Kunze. I think…).

Saffron’s story is a tale as old as time itself. A master chef, who can use pasta shapes as nunchucks and carries wooden spoons like an 80s action hero carries grenades, wishes to save the world from bad food via opening an excellent restaurant.

All that stands in his way is the small matter of his own self-doubt and an evil restaurant franchiser who wants to sully his Ragu with sugar.

Kunze does an excellent job keeping all these characters separate, making up for his inability to change costume by unleashing an array of preposterous voices.

And so the evil, legally distinct Donald McRonald sounds like the simple country hyper chicken from Futurama; granny pasta, who gobbles her nosh with gusto, is played with a bonkers falsetto; and the love interest farmer is cartoonishly Irish.

A special mention, too, for Saffron’s hype man and DJ, who lurks in the corner doing tech, backing vocals and the odd sarcastic aside. His comments really enliven Saffron’s flow, whether harmonising a love track or commenting on the unfortunate deaths of several of McRonald’s minions (the spamburglers).

I told you there were puns.

On the night I attended, a riotous, enraptured crowd really added to the atmosphere; with one person in the front row even apologising for laughing at Saffron’s sadness.

And as the spoons fell away from the belt towards the dramatic finale, I thought: hey, yeah. This is what I’ve been missing.

Rating: *** 1/2 out of *****

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